Established:1979, taking over from the former British SF newsletter Checkpoint.
Editor: David Langford
Ansible began as a subscription-based newsletter whose issues became fatter and increasingly irregular as circulation grew past 600. After a period of suspended animation from 1987 to 1991, it reappeared as a free one-page news sheet handed out at London’s monthly SF pub meetings (until 2001) and widely distributed by mail. The monthly schedule continues, unbroken.
Current availability: printed copies can be had for stamped self-addressed envelopes in the United Kingdom and via agents overseas: Janice Murray in the USA, Alan Stewart in Australia. Most readers prefer the email edition (circulation 3,500+) or the website — which, thanks to heroic rekeying efforts by volunteers, includes all the back issues and virtually every supplement and flyer mailed with Ansible.
Ansible prefers the quirkier aspects of science fiction, SF professionals and fans, and outsiders’ quaint or annoying perceptions of SF. The “Thog’s Masterclass” feature, showcasing “differently good” prose from our favourite genres, is regrettably popular. “Author Sells Book” and “Publisher Acquires Book” stories are generally banned unless they provide opportunities for the editor’s deplorable sense of humour. The rival newsletter File 770 wrote of Ansible in 1987: “As a newszine, it is the Emperor’s New Clothes”.
Awards and Recognition:
Ansible won the fanzine Hugo in 1987, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2002. It was then switched by editorial declaration to the semiprozine category, which (frankly) began as a Hugo acceptance-speech joke but became a device to remove it from Best Fanzine. The unexpected result was a string of semiprozine nominations up to 2008 — though not 2009 — and a 2005 win in this category.
Other Items of Interest:
Thog’s Masterclass has spun off its own website at Thog.org, but let’s not talk about that disgraceful business. Some favourite inclusions — articles and speeches by SF notables — are listed on the Site Map web page. I’m also pleased to have goaded people into scanning/rekeying every issue of Ansible‘s predecessor Checkpoint, extending the searchable archive of British SF news back to 1971 — and indeed further, because others have since done the same for the earlier newsletters Skyrack and Futurian War Digest.
Information provided by David Langford.